4th October 2012

GRAND PRIX de l'A.C.F - Reims - Gueux

LUIGI'S LOVELY DAY

It may be a battle between Alfa Romeo drivers Farina and Fangio but at Reims it was the third driver Luigi Fagioli who found himself in the lead and although he expected to be given the signal to slow down, it never came and the 52 year-old Abruzzi Robber won his first Championship race.

ENTRY

A very large entry of 27 cars arrived at Reims and being France we had nine French cars on the entry list. The three Gordinis came along - optimistic as always yet totally outclassed as ever. The six Talbots were the five French cars plus Claes' yellow one. Not a single British car took part this time although at least the Thinwall Ferrari did add a small amount of green to the red and blue, (and yellow).

The four Alfa Romeos were driven by their regular pilotes but Ferrari brought a car for Gonzales who always goes well when he drives a 375. Franco Rol had the red OSCA and then there were no less than eight Maseratis completing the list. Amongst these were the two Maserati-Milanos with Bonetto and the young Argentine Marimon as drivers.

PRACTICE

Raised eyebrows were the order of the day at the end of the third practice session because of the three cars on the front row of the grid, only one was an Alfa Romeo.

The good Doctor Farina had done his usual fine job in putting his car on pole position but he had the Ferraris of Gonzales and Ascari for company. Fangio had been fastest in the first two sessions but was unable to improve in the last and slipped to fourth, sharing row 2 with Taruffi's Ferrari. The other two Alfa Romeos were on row three with Bira in the fastest of the Maseratis. Interestingly, Fagioli's time was from the first session. He was unable to match it in the other two.

Lower down the grid Rosier was the quickest of the Talbots while Villoresi was surprisingly far back in 11th with the 4th of the Ferraris. The middle of the grid saw a solid bank of red Maseratis. Rol had the OSCA going quite nicely but it goes without saying that the final three places on the grid were occupied by the Gordinis, the fastest of which, Trintignant, was 22 seconds slower than Farina's pole time although only a fraction behind Parnell's Maserati which was not going at all well.

Here is the full grid order the 77 lap race:

   1.
2
N. FARINA ALFA ROMEO 158
2.25'69
   2.
14
F. GONZALES FERRARI 375
2.26'66
   3.
10
A. ASCARI FERRARI 375
2.26'72
   4.
6
J. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158
2.27'31
   5.
16
P. TARUFFI FERRARI 375
2.29'53
   6.
8
C. SANESI ALFA ROMEO 158
2.30'11
   7.
4
L. FAGIOLI ALFA ROMEO 158
2.30'30
   8.
22
B. BIRA MASERATI 4.CLT
2.32'75
   9.
20
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26C
2.32'98
   10.
24
P. WHITEHEAD FERRARI 375
2.33'09
   11.
12
L. VILLORESI THINWALL FERRARI 375
2.33'63
   12.
22
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
2.33'99
   13.
56
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
2.34'43
   14.
40
F. BONETTO MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT
2.34'87
   15.
18
E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT
2.34'97
   16.
50
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26C
2.35'41
   17.
44
R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26C
2.37'15
   18.
54
F. ROL O.S.C.A.
2.37'44
   19.
42
O. MARIMON MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT
2.38'09
   20.
26
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26C
2.40'83
   21.
46
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26C
2.41'02
   22.
28
J. CLAES TALBOT LAGO T.26C
2.41'80
   23.
38
D. HAMPSHIRE MASERATI 4.CLT
2.41'88
   24.
52
R. PARNELL MASERATI 4.CLT
2.46'32
   25.
32
M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15
2.47'78
   26.
30
R. MANZON GORDINI 15
4.42'40
   27.
34
A. SIMON GORDINI 15
2.50'74

THE RACE

Happily for Luigi Fagioli there seem to be no team orders at Alfa Romeo. Although his somewhat more illustrious team-matea Farina and Fangio are the ones in contention for the World Championship, the fact that on the day Fagioli was the fastest of the trio meant that he was not forced to concede places to the other two and despite being only 7th fastest in practice Luigi quickly moved up to third then second and passed Fangio to take the lead on lap 16, thereafter running just fast enough to keep Fangio at a safe distance, eventually winning by 9 seconds. Farina ran Fangio quite close in the battle for second but Nino fell away towards the end and realising he was safe in third, with fourth-place Gonzales being lapped, he cruised around the final lap, eventually trundling in two and a half minutes behind Fangio.

Gonzales kep Sanesi at bay, thus preventing an Alfa clean sweep but again, it might have been a different sory had Ascari (third at the time) not crashed on lap 31. Indeed, Gonzales was the only Ferrari to finish the race. Taruffi departed the race around the same time as Ascari but Villoresi made it to lap 71 before he too crashed out. The best of the rest on this occasion was Rosier who drove a fine race into 6th place just one lap behind the winner and on the same lap as Gonzales and Sanesi.

Schell and Marimon got their Maseratis to the finish, the young Argentine doing a fine job after his Maserati-Milano team-mate Bonetto crashed out on lap 1 at one of the bends in the village of Gueux. Etancelin and Levegh also made it to the end while Claes, Sommer and Giraud-Cabantous all retired their Talbots. The Thinwall Ferrari in the hands of Peter Whitehead was up to 9th by lap 22 but retired shortly afterwards Magneto issues.

Not a fantastically exciting French Grand Prix but the burly Pampas Bull kept things alive with his relentless pursuit of the rockets from Turin.

Here is the full result of the 36 lap race:


   1.
4
L. FAGIOLI ALFA ROMEO 158
3.16.37'03
   2.
6
J. FANGIO ALFA ROMEO 158
3.16.46'46
   3.
2
G. FARINA ALFA ROMEO 158
3.19.20'25
   4.
14
F. GONZALES FERRARI 375
76 laps
   5.
8
C. SANESI ALFA ROMEO 158
76 laps
   6.
20
L. ROSIER TALBOT LAGO T.26C
76 laps
   7.
22
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
75 laps
   8.
26
P. ETANCELIN TALBOT LAGO T.26C
73 laps
   9.
42
O. MARIMON MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT
73 laps
 10.
50
P. LEVEGH TALBOT LAGO T.26C
72 laps
Fastest lap:   J. FANGIOI, ALFA ROMEO 158,   on lap 8,   2.26'82

Retired:
 
12
L. VILLORESI THINWALL FERRARI 375
70 laps
 
56
L. CHIRON MASERATI 4.CLT
65 laps
 
28
J. CLAES TALBOT LAGO T.26C
47 laps
 
54
F. ROL O.S.C.A.
35 laps
 
30
R. MANZON GORDINI 15
33 laps
 
16
P. TARUFFI FERRARI 375
30 laps
 
10
A. ASCARI FERRARI 375
30 laps
 
34
A. SIMON GORDINI 15
27 laps
 
24
P. WHITEHEAD FERRARI 375
24 laps
 
38
D. HAMPSHIRE MASERATI 4.CLT
20 laps
 
32
M. TRINTIGNANT GORDINI 15
13 laps
 
46
Y. GIRAUD-CABANTOUS TALBOT LAGO T.26C
12 laps
 
22
H. SCHELL MASERATI 4.CLT
12 laps
 
52
R. PARNELL MASERATI 4.CLT
11 laps
 
18
E. de GRAFFENRIED MASERATI 4.CLT
6 laps
 
44
R. SOMMER TALBOT LAGO T.26C
4 laps
 
40
F. BONETTO MASERATI MILANO 4.CLT
0 laps

REIMS RUMBLES:

  • Yet another Grand Prix falls to Alfa Romeo. It looks as though Villoresi win in Switzerland was a one-off.
  • Fangio was quite happy see Fagioli win as he extended his lead in the points from 10 to 13. Farina was content that it wasn't 15.
  • The two sharp corners on the Gueux circuit required very heavy braking and the potential for mistakes - which happened to several drivers.
  • Etancelin had a miserable day, even running last soon after half-distance, but he recovered and passed Marimon and Levegh before the end.
  • The best battle of the race was between the Maseratis of Schell and Chiron. It was decided in Schell's favour when the Monagasque crashed on lap 66.
  • Five minor races, three in France and two in Italy, come up next before the Championship competitors arrive at the fearsome Nurburgring - the next round.
  • We are informed that two brand new V.16 B.R.Ms will be appearing at Albi.

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